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BOB ABERNETHY, host: In a highly critical new report, a United Nations panel accused the Vatican of systematically putting protection of the Church’s reputation above the welfare of children who were sexually abused by priests. The nonbinding report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Vatican to immediately remove all known or suspected abusers and turn them over to civil authorities. It also urged accountability for those who covered up the crimes. In response, Church officials said the report ignored recent measures to address the abuse crisis. They also rejected the panel’s criticism of Church positions on other issues, including abortion, birth control, and homosexuality. Joining me with more on this are Kim Lawton, managing editor of this program, and Father Tom Reese, author, expert on the Vatican, and senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter. Tom, welcome. Welcome back here.

REV.THOMAS REESE, SJ (Senior Analyst, National Catholic Reporter): Thank you.

ABERNETHY: What did you make of this UN committee's report?

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REESE: Well, it was a missed opportunity. You know, I wish they had acknowledged the fact that the Church has done something. For example, Pope Benedict put in zero tolerance for any abuse. That means any priest involved in abuse is no longer allowed to be in the priesthood. He threw out 400 priests in the last two years of his papacy. I think they should've acknowledged that, and then said, “Okay, make sure you keep enforcing these policies that you have in place.”

ABERNETHY: So can it be expected that this committee report, it was only a committee report, will have any impact, will cause the Vatican to do anything it otherwise wouldn't do?

REESE: Well it's certainly drawing attention to the problem again, and it does have some good recommendations about, you know, making sure that bishops are accountable, that they fulfill and do the policies that the Vatican has now put in place.

KIM LAWTON: Well, and that's one of the questions. That's been a big issue is holding the Church leaders, bishops, archbishops accountable, making them pay consequences for their role in it, and that's one thing that hasn't happened. Why hasn't that happened?

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REESE: Well, that's the real question, and that's the real issue. I think that the Vatican has to go after bishops like Bishop Finn of Kansas City who's been convicted of not reporting a priest to civil authorities. Well, I mean, he's just got to go, and you also have the case of the Italian bishops conference, which has decided, “Well, we're not going to report our bad priests to the police.” That's simply unacceptable, and the Vatican has to tell them that.

LAWTON: Pope Francis, obviously very popular, but this is one area where he has drawn some criticism from people who say, “Yes, he's called sex abuse of minors a harm of the Church, a shame of the Church.” He has said he's going to appoint a commission to deal with this, but some people are saying, “You know, we've heard apologies, we've heard talk, we've heard studies. When is there going to be actual action?” Is this something he's vulnerable on?

REESE: Well, I think he's got to hold bishops accountable, that they have to observe the policies that he's established. I think the idea of a commission is good. It brings together experts and so that all bishops all over the world learn best practices, and they don't make the same mistakes that the American bishops made. That would be very helpful.

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ABERNETHY: What is the situation around the world? Are there places where they're just in denial?

REESE: I think so. I think that bishops in the Global South and the Third World aren't really up to speed on this, and I think it's very important that they learn from the mistakes of the American bishops, of the European bishops so that they can be proactive, that they get to this problem before it explodes on them.

LAWTON: What will satisfy some of the victims' advocates who—you know, on this issue?

REESE: Well, the victims' advocates have to speak for themselves, but I think we have to listen to them, first of all. We have to apologize again and again and again. We have to make sure, make it clear that we are going to make sure that this never happens again. These are the things that victims really want.

ABERNETHY: But Tom, is the Vatican ready to start firing people, like the bishop that you referred to in Kansas City?

REESE: You know, they haven't been so far, although in Ireland there have been bishops that have been fired. Cardinal Law, of course, was removed from office. You know, I think we need to see more of that. If we had had 30 or 40 bishops in this country stand up and say, “I've made a mistake. I take full responsibility. I'm sorry, and I resign,” we wouldn't be where we are today.

ABERNETHY: Father Tom Reese, many thanks.

UN Report on Vatican Child Sexual Abuse

“If we had had 30 or 40 bishops in this country stand up and say, ‘I’ve made a mistake. I take full responsibility. I’m sorry, and I resign,’ we wouldn’t be where we are today,” says Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter. Watch our conversation about the United Nations’ criticism of the Holy See’s handling of sex abuse by priests.

  • Susanna

    They may have tried to hide and sweep the whole mess under the rug–but instead, they have tainted the Catholic Church to the point it has lost all respect. I do not think this Pope can do much to change things either. I know Catholics and wonder why they stay with such a religious organization.

  • Michael Skiendzielewski

    As they say, this isn’t rocket science……….The Roman
    Catholic Church did next to nothing to stop certain sexual abusing clergy who
    were preying on the most innocent of our faithful other than to move them from
    one location to another and put other children and young adults at risk, some
    of whom became additional victims of the most evil, criminal and
    life-destroying conduct and behavior that man is capable of on this earth.
    This occurred in towns, neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries around
    the globe and to this day, not a single religious leader, cardinal or bishop,
    has been held accountable for his failure to stop the physical and
    psychological carnage that was perpetrated on the victims and their families.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept

  • Juliana Jones

    There was NO mention of Arresting these guys. Why are they exempt from following the law?

  • DrRosemaryEileenMcHugh

    I agree with what you say, Susanna! Right now I am ashamed to be Catholic. I am praying that the leaders of the church will begin to follow Jesus who demanded that the innocence of children must be protected. As a victim/survivor myself, I am also doing what I can to support other victims and to push for governments and law enforcement agencies throughout the world to investigate the Catholic Church and to demand all files on clergy sexual abuse in the Vatican and elsewhere to be given to the police for investigation and prosecution. The pope is abusing diplomatic immunity by protecting his Archbishop Wesolowski in the Vatican and refusing to send him back to Poland and the Dominican Republic to face charges of sexually abusing young boys in both countries. This usually compassionate pope shows no care for the soul-murder that his archbishop has caused in the lives of these young boys. It is very sad that the pope wants to continue to be in charge and to have the right to investigate the crimes in his own church and his own criminals. How wrong-headed is that?

  • Susan

    Rev. Thomas Reese is the first word of reasoning I have heard from the Catholic Church.

  • caliwebman

    The 3rd prophecy of Fatima was the foreseeing of the fall of the Vatican and the end of lifespan for Christianity; this great Myth has run its lifespan and with the changing of the age recently I now can share some truths of truths with you.

    We indeed are the creators we once thought we were not.

    Through the ages of the past 6000 years we have we have recorded a good few avatars (prophets). Jesus was the 9th avatar recorded. Any time we go through an age change the seers and sages go on high alert as they await the coming of the next prophet. And so the seers have been keeping watch for the, “2nd coming of Christ” but he has not come. And now, after recently ending the age of Pisces and with our move into Aquarius (a return to the divine feminine energies) the sages have been watching for a goddess to show, but she has not come. Neither he, nor she, has come.

    I am here to tell you that neither he or she are coming, and to inform you of your true calling.

    You see, something happened to me recently, something very special. When I awoke in the morning following sleep a few nights ago I awoke having felt as if I had been reborn. I do not know or ask why, it just is. I know that during that night of rest I had vivid dreams of far away travels, and to a time without limits where I shared in divine discussions not of this world – many of those discussions I could not immediately recall. But as the morning went forward many of those nights travels began to consciously come back to me. Without doubt the most important of all the gifts I had been offered on that night was this one, single, gift. And now I gift it to you:

    We have had 2150 years to learn from the bible and the Christ teachings and now we sit before the 1000 years of peace Jesus spoke about. But there is a HUGELY PERSONAL challenge we all face that no one told us about, until now. You see, the 2nd coming of Christ is not Jesus literally coming back to save us, and neither is it a divine feminine or goddess, they will not come. Rather, the 2nd coming of Christ, is YOU, is ME, is HIM and is HER.

    The holy grail simply put, is the latent miracle powers of Jesus that reside within each and every one of us. Now is the time to begin to awaken those latent powers and use them for what we all know to be true and right within our heart of hearts.

    Before us lies a choice, we must now choose to bring 1000 years of peace and heaven on earth through our free will of choice. It is time to stop the Jesus talk, and Walk the Jesus Walk.

    Love & Light,

    Scott

  • Lilith

    I am not a Christian–left the religion over 40 years ago. What you are talking about sound like the Messianic age the Reform Jews look for and want to work toward. They look for a man (the Messiah of the holy books is to be a man-not as Christians say G-d) and the Messianic age will be when man learns to live with his fellow man in peace.

  • caliwebman

    Well that certainly sounds good to me. What I love about their approach is that it doesn’t appear to be “Exclusive”. Exclusivity is found in nearly all the so called sacred texts and major religions. i.e. John 14:6. And this very element is the basis for all the disagreements, separations, and yes WARS. Let me say one thing to all those who believe that their spirituality is more exclusive than others. LOVE, is NOT exclusive.Thanks for sharing Lilith.

  • caliwebman

    and Lilith does that type of a world sound good or bad to you? BTW – thanks for sharing as I did not know this was what the Jews were awaiting.

  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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  • caliwebman

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